A former Israeli ambassador to the United States said Thursday he does not think a pair of freshman Democratic congresswomen from the United States should be allowed to visit his country.
Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota told Jewish Insider on Wednesday she planned to travel to Israel.
“I am going in a couple of weeks and so I’ll learn more,” she said. “But truly, everything that I hear points to both sides feeling like there is still an occupation.”
“We must really address that [occupation] and make sure that as we push forth a two-state solution, that we acknowledge that and fight any attempts to stall this process and make sure that there is an opportunity for both sides to fully recognize each other’s dignity and to live peacefully.”
Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, a fellow freshman congresswoman, also planned to visit Israel, according to Fox News.
Neither member of Congress should be allowed in, says Daniel Ayalon, who served as Israel’s ambassador to the United States from 2002 to 2006.
“Every Democratic country has the right to deny entry from those who seek to destroy it,” Ayalon said Thursday night on the Fox Business show “The Evening Edit.“
“Certainly these two members of Congress show that they hate Israel, they hate Jews — which makes them racists, anti-Semitic,” he said. “Certainly we should not play to their provocation.”
Both Omar and Tlaib have made controversial comments about Israel in the past.
Omar for her part, came under fire for suggesting earlier this year that U.S. support for Israel is “all about the Benjamins,” according to The Daily Caller. She also once claimed in a since-deleted tweet that Israel has “hypnotized the world.”
Tlaib, meanwhile, said in May, per The Washington Post: “There’s a kind of a calming feeling, I always tell folks, when I think of the Holocaust and the tragedy of the Holocaust, and the fact that it was my ancestors — Palestinians — who lost their land and some lost their lives, their livelihood, their human dignity, their existence, in many ways, had been wiped out. … I mean, just all of it was in the name of trying to create a safe haven for Jews, post-the Holocaust, post-the tragedy and the horrific persecution of Jews across the world at that time.”
In light of their remarks, there has been speculation this week over whether Omar or Tlaib would be allowed to enter Israel. That’s due to a 2017 law allowing the Israeli government to prevent from entering the country any foreigner who “knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel.”
Omar and Tlaib certainly fit the bill. Both lawmakers co-sponsored legislation in favor of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divest, Sanctions movement. The legislation affirms that “that all Americans have the right to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad, as protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.”
The resolution does not actually mention Israel or the BDS movement by name.
But Omar has said publicly that her goal in introducing the bill is to bring attention to the BDS movement.
“We are introducing a resolution … to really speak about the American values that support and believe in our ability to exercise our First Amendment rights in regard to boycotting,” Omar told Al-Monitor this week.
“And it is an opportunity for us to explain why it is we support a nonviolent movement, which is the BDS movement,” she said.
Still, Israel’s current ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, indicated Friday both lawmakers will be allowed to enter Israel.
“Out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any member of Congress into Israel,” Dermer told The Times of Israel.
Israel made this decision despite Ayalon encouraging Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to let them in.
If they truly want to visit here, they must immediately apologize for their anti-semitic statements and agree to visit Yad Vashem.
— Danny Ayalon (@DannyAyalon) July 19, 2019
“If they truly want to visit here, they must immediately apologize for their anti-semitic statements and agree to visit Yad Vashem,” Ayalon tweeted Friday.
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